Lest we forget, we are a great nation, we are not a small, scared, besieged society circling the wagons and rationing justice. This is the American soul, inscribed in bronze at the base of the Statue of Liberty…
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Lady Liberty was born in France, came to America and settled in New York Harbor to welcome immigrants, my own great-grandparents included. A young man from France once told me that America gets the most ambitious, the bravest and most enterprising people from all over the world. You don’t have to be Einstein to see his point.
In 2006 twenty thousand Rhode Islanders assembled on the Statehouse lawn to support immigration reform. This was the biggest demonstration since the Vietnam War. I know, because I was there. It was freezing cold at that rally, a perfect Spring day today. Let’s see who shows.
UPDATE: A few hundred people showed up, representatives from community groups and I saw some Quakers and Unitarians in the crowd. The Washington Post has an article on the economics of immigration. The next governor of Rhode Island should focus on job creation. We’ve seen zero benefit from scapegoating immigrants– it’s time to look at changes to help working families and small businesses.
Here is the ProJo.com coverage. Check out the comments and you will see that defending immigrants is a guaranteed way to get flamed. Reform is long overdue.